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Schwob School of Music

IDRS 2016 Schwob Prize in Composition


As part of the International Double Reed Society Conference 2016 at the Schwob School of Music of Columbus State University (Georgia, USA), the Composers Competition seeks to encourage new works featuring standard double reed instruments. To fulfill this, we invited composers to submit chamber concerto works featuring double reeds.  During the conference, finalist works will receive a performance by a featured performer guest of IDRS 2016, accompanied by the resident ensemble of professional musicians. The winner of the Schwob Prize in Composition – selected by jury, ensemble, and audience – will be announced and receive a repeat performance during a second concert of IDRS 2016, in addition to a cash award of $500 USD. We are excited to start what we hope becomes a standing tradition of inspiring composers to write new works for double reed instruments.


We are pleased to announce the three finalists of our IDRS 2016 Schwob Prize in Composition Competition!

Finalists are listed in alphabetical order with their soloists.


Brandon Dicks - Hypnotic Ink

Oboist Soloist - Joseph Salvalaggio, Principal Oboe, Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Brandon Dicks is from Roswell, Georgia and has lived there for most of his life. He was introduced to the musical world by his father, who taught Brandon piano at the age of 8. While piano was not one of his main interests as a child, trumpet definitely was when he started playing at the age of 10. However, it was not until he started composing at the age of 13 where he made music his main focus. He has composed numerous works for wind ensemble, orchestra and various chamber ensembles. The works range from philosophical and emotional, to being fun and humorous. With his expression of music, Brandon feels this balance best indicates why he composes music. He writes music not only for self-expression, but to give others enjoyment and personal insight. One of Brandon's recent influences is popular visual media. Inspired by striking pictures and videos, he expresses his emotional impressions of the media, and showcases the literal image through music. Some of Brandon's achievements include winning the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Competition, Winning the 2014-2015 Georgia State Division of the MTNA Young Artist Competition in Composition and receiving honorable mention at the Southern Division of the MTNA Young Artist Competition in Composition. He has also been commissioned by the Columbus State University Historical Department, Robert Murray and Paul Hostetter. Brandon Dicks is currently in his 4th year as an undergraduate at Columbus State University pursuing a degree in Music Education. He studies with James Ogburn for composition and Robert Murray for trumpet. He has also studied with Fred Cohen, Matthew McCabe, Lincoln Hanks and Robert Deemer for composition. After leaving Columbus State, he plans to progress his talents in composition by obtaining a masters in music composition.

Hypnotic Ink is the first of a five movement suite inspired by visuals that feature slow motion. Each movement features a different instrument from the chamber ensemble established, Oboe, Flute, Clarinet, Percussion and Violoncello. Hypnotic Ink is inspired by the visual aesthetics of ink shooting through water. The ink progresses from a rough clutter to smooth clarity. Hypnotic Ink uses this model of transformation both on micro and macro scales. The piece begins with a strict tone row and abrasive changes. As the piece progresses, the rules of the tone row weaken and the basic outline is showcased. This applies to the texture as well, which becomes thinner and more ambient. However, the piece hits a drastic shift after the oboe cadenza. Once the ink is fully smoothed in the water, it simply floats, gently dances with the currents. After that, another ink is shot into the water, but this time not in slow motion. This concludes as an abbreviated final gesture of the work.


Dr. Xinyan Li - Mongolian Impressions

Bassoon Soloist - Darrel Hale, Assistant Professor of Bassoon, Louisiana State University

Dr. Xinyan Li was born and grew up in Qiqihar, China. She received her Doctoral degree at University of Missouri-Kansas City, after earning her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at China Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Dr. Li's works are featured at Aspen Music Festival(U.S.A.), National Center for the Performing Arts(China), Sveriges Radio(Sweden), 19th Nordic International Bassoon Symposium(Norway), Septembre musical de l'Orne(France), International Double Reed Society 2015 Conference(Japan), and SCI National Conference(U.S.A.) etc. Her music has been performed by American Composers Orchestra, members of Eighth Blackbird, PRISM Quartet, Bergen Woodwind Quintet, Jeffrey Lyman, Music From China, Quintet of The Americas, and principal musicians of Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis, Montreal, Bergen Orchestras and Orchestre National de France etc. Her honors and awards include ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, American Composers Orchestra New Music Readings, International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2011, Tsang-Houei Hsu International Music Composition Award, Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship; grants from National Endowment for the Arts (U.S.A.) and New York State Council on the Arts. She has been invited as the visiting composer by Aspen Music Festival, and has taught at New York Philharmonic Orchestra's Very Young Composers Program. She gave lectures at the Grieg Academy at University of Bergen, Adelphi University and so on. Her teachers include professors Chen Yi, James Mobberley, Zhou Long, Paul Rudy, Jin Xiang and Yang Tongba.

Mongolian Impressions , written for bassoon, string quartet and percussion, is inspired by Chinese Inner Mongolia's music and culture, which includes three movements: Long Song, Horse Racing and Playing with Snow. Long Song is expressive and lyrical, describing the boundless Mongolian grasslands with running horses and the dream-like unpredictable multi-layer clouds. Horse Racing, fast and virtuosic, presents a vivid and hot competition of riding horses as one of the traditions for Mongolian people. Frequently changed rhythms and meters are used; high and low registers are contrasted strikingly with zigzag melodic lines. Playing with Snow depicts the young kids happily entertain with snowballs in snow. Lots of pizzicato are used in strings, which recalls Mongolian folk instruments lute and zither. It shows a sense of humor in this movement. This sextet is commissioned by 19th Nordic Bassoon Symposium and dedicated to Prof. Per Hannevold. It received its world premiere by Bergen Chamber Players who are all members of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in March, 2014.


Sky Macklay - Doppelgänger

Oboe Soloist - Michelle Vigneau, Associate Professor of Oboe, University of Memphis

The music of composer, oboist, and installation artist Sky Macklay (b. 1988) explores bold contrasts, audible processes, humor, and the physicality of sound. Her works have been performed by ensembles such as ICE, Yarn/Wire, Wet Ink Ensemble, Spekral Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Dal Niente, The New York Virtuoso Singers, and The Da Capo Chamber Players. Her piece for the Lexington Symphony (Dissolving Bands) was the winner of the 2013 Leo Kaplan award, the top prize in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and her sonic and kinetic installation of inflatable harmonica-playing robots (Harmonibots) received the 2015 Ruth Anderson Prize from The International Alliance for Women in Music. Originally from Minnesota, Sky is currently pursuing her DMA in composition at Columbia University in New York City where she studies with Georg Friedrich Haas, George Lewis, and Fred Lerdahl. She also holds degrees from the University of Memphis and Luther College, where she studied both composition and oboe. Sky teaches at Columbia and at The Walden School Young Musicians Program. As a 2015-17 Composers and the Voice fellow with American Opera Projects, Sky is currently writing an opera set inside a woman's uterus.

Doppelgänger was composed in 2012 for the Memphis-based group PRIZM ensemble. I decided to create a work for the whole group that would feature PRIZM's oboist at the time, my friend and mentor Michelle Vigneau. I am also an oboist so I was excited to employ my insider knowledge of the instrument to create new yet idiomatic sounds. I came up with the majority of the musical material and techniques through improvising on my oboe, and then I composed the ensemble's supporting parts around this soloistic framework. This piece can be performed by one oboe soloist or (more ideally) by two oboe soloists playing in "aleatoric multiphonic unison." The solo part(s) utilize very high notes, aggressive double trills, and fast-changing walls of multiphonics. Doppelgänger explores the less-refined, not-so-pretty sides of the oboe in a short, fast, noisy, and gestural barrage of sound objects and dirty melodies. In addition to the mixed-chamber version, this piece exists in versions for two oboes and organ and two oboes and accordion. I love to play this piece myself and, wherever the piece may go, I see it as an opportunity for playing with new and old oboe friends.


We would also like to thank Dr. James Ogburn, Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at Columbus State University for organizing this project as well as our first-round panel of esteemed judges listed below:

The impressive first-round committee was comprised of: Frederico Garcia de Castro, Artistic Director, ALIA Musica Pittsburgh; Roger Petersen, Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory, Del Mar College; Martin Kennedy, Director of Composition and Theory, Central Washington University; Thanapol Setabrahmana, Director of Bands, Mahidol University College of Music; Kee Yong Chong, Creative Director, Studio C and Artistic Director, Soundbridge Festival; and Keri McCarthy, Associate Professor of Oboe, Washington State University. 

Final Round Judges:

Scott Harris, Director, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University
Brian Kershner, Professor of Composition, Central Connecticut State University
Alyssa Morris, Composer, Oboist, CCM Chamber Players
Richard Prior, Edward Goodwin Scruggs Conducting Chair, Senior Lecturer Composition & Director of Orchestral Activities, Emory University